Less than three weeks ago, the second release of the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition cigars began showing up on retailer’s shelves. This was the second brand from Drew Estate to bear the legendary bourbon’s name, after the two-vitola line Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars—a partnership between the cigar company and Pappy & Co., the merchandising side of the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon brand—was released in 2015.
First released in October 2017, the seven vitolas in the regular production Pappy Van Winkle Tradition brand are covered in an Ecuadorian habano oscuro wrapper, while the internal blend is made up of an Indonesian binder as well as filler tobaccos from both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. This was a change from the first Pappy Van Winkle brand, which is made up of a Kentucky Tapa Negra and Mexican San Andrés double wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos hailing from Kentucky and Nicaragua.
However, there is one more big difference between the Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented line and the newer Pappy Van Winkle Tradition: the former was sold only on Pappy & Co.’s website while the latter is being shipped to select Drew Estate accounts. Of the seven vitolas, five sizes are being shipped to Drew Diplomat retailers, while two of the vitolas are not: the Corona, which will only be passed out by Jonathan Drew, and the Lonsdale, which will be exclusively released at Drew Diplomat events. In addition, the Churchill vitola is being sold exclusively at Drew Diplomat liquor chains.
“I was invited to Cigar Aficionado’s A Night to Remember by Jonathan Drew in 2016 and was presented with a non-banded, wooden box of cigars with white bands on it that just read ‘Exclusively for my Friend Julian by Willy Herrera Sincerely Jonathan Drew,’” said Julian Van Winkle, president of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, in a press release when the cigar was first announced. “I loved this blend because of its balance, shortly thereafter, my family and I visited La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Nicaragua and I smoked the same blend most of the trip. By the end, I knew this would be the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition.”
All seven of the vitolas in the line are being rolled at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Esteli, Nicaragua and packaged in 10-count boxes.
- Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Coronita (4 x 46) — $14.60 (Boxes of 10, $146)
- Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Corona (5 1/2 x 44) — Jonathan Drew/Julian Van Winkle Exclusive
- Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Belicoso Fino (5 x 50) — $24.60 (Boxes of 10, $24.60)
- Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Robusto Grande (5 1/2 x 54) — $21.60 (Boxes of 10, $216)
- Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Toro (6 x 50) — $23.60 (Boxes of 10, $236)
- Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Lonsdale (6 1/2 x 44) — Drew Diplomat Reward Event-Only
- Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Churchill (7 x 48) — $23.60 (Boxes of 10, $236)
Here is what I said in my first review back in October 2017:
Honestly, the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about this blend—and the blend that preceded it—was gimmick. After all, it hits all of the high points: using the name of an extremely popular company without incorporating any of said product, a somewhat surprisingly high price point and an extremely limited production. Having said that, the main question I had going into this review was simple: despite the hype, how does it perform as a blend? Well, the answer to that question is pretty well. While one sample had some fairly significant issues that I don’t think are representative of the release as a whole, the other two were clean, smooth and well-balanced, although they never reached a point that I would call complex. Construction is excellent overall, with a great draw on each sample and a burn that only needed to be touched up twice. Yes, the price is too high for what you are getting, but it is easily a good enough blend to try, especially if you like cigars on the mild side.
- Cigar Reviewed: Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Coronita
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
- Binder: Indonesia
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Petite Corona
- MSRP: $14.60 (Boxes of 10, $146)
- Release Date: Sept. 29, 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1
As with the samples from my first review, the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Coronita is covered in a cinnamon brown wrapper that is fairly smooth to the touch and features just a hint of oil. The two bands continue to take up almost two-thirds of the total real estate of the cigar, and it is a bit harder than I expected when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of intense leather, oak, orange citrus, cinnamon, dark chocolate and spices while the cold draw brings flavors of cinnamon, cream, orange rinds, leather, earth and dark chocolate.
The flavors in the Tradition Coronita begin to make themselves known immediately after lighting the foot, with notes of creamy cedar and nutmeg easily taking the dominant spots, followed by notes of cinnamon, leather, earth and dark chocolate. There is some orange citrus carried over from the cold draw as well, and it plays well with some surprisingly aggressive white pepper on the retrohale. In addition, a distinct graham cracker sweetness makes itself known in the profile early on, although the level stays pretty constant through the first half. The dominant flavors in the second half remain much the same as the first, although both the white pepper and the orange citrus recede noticeably and the graham cracker sweetness increases slightly as well.
Construction-wise, the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Coronita gives me virtually no issues whatsoever, with a draw that features a close-to-perfect amount of resistance for my tastes after a straight cut and a burn that wanders a bit but never comes close to needing to be touched up. The smoke production is a bit thinner than I would like—but still well within normal limits—and the overall strength increases slowly from a solid mild to a point about halfway between mild and medium by the time I put the nub down with less than an inch left after exactly 44 minutes of smoking time.
I was expecting the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Coronita to have changed quite a bit since my first review a bit more than a year ago, and in that regard, I was not wrong. While the samples in my first review were full of coffee and peanuts with a little bit of vanilla sweetness to round out the profile, the cigar for this review was inundated with nutmeg, creamy cedar and orange citrus along with some graham cracker sweetness on the retrohale. A year of rest has done wonders for the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Coronita, and while I look forward to seeing how more time impacts the profile, these are smoking wonderfully now.